Thirty Days with Thimble

I do my best learning when I am teaching. HTML is no different and the new Thimble, an online html editor from Mozilla, has transformed my ability to teach our shared vision of the Web.

Late last month, after years of planning, hard work by contributors, and thanks to David Humphrey and the Seneca College Centre for Development and Open Technology Thimble launched. Dr. Humphrey had been exploring the idea of expanding Thimble capabilities by integrating Bramble, a fork of Adobe’s Brackets open-source text editor.

On August 31st Thimble dropped. The way I teach others to read, write, and participate online will never be the same.

Othello Principle

I have fond memories of playing Othello with my Grandfather. The game had a tagline that I apply to teaching, “Easy to learn a lifetime to master.”

The new Thimble embodies the Othello Principle. As part of a #MakerMonday challenge, the way I kick off the week in #EDU106, I signed up 35 college students to use Thimble. Beyond a link they shared in Snapchat they have never seen HTML. In minutes they could remix and create webpages.

The new features in Thimble help me, help people new to the Web. My favorite new tip is the autocompletion of tags. Also when you click on an opening tag the closing tag also highlights. I have watched people edit HTML for this first time. New Thimble features will alleviate the most common mistakes. Keeping track of nested tags is probably the biggest headache I see students encounter.

These basics will help, but there are so many rich features I need to discover. Thimble can do so much more than one page files. It now supports multiple files in a project. Markdown support is coming. I know nothing of Javascript. I will soon, because of Thimble. Easy to learn life time to master.

Powered by Connected Learning

Other code editors exist. Thousands of CSS tutorials can be found online, but many start with the tyranny of a blank screen.

Learning to write takes mentor texts. New writers need to stare at text structure and then remix patterns that emerge. They need to break things and watch what happens. The preview panel in Thimble is a perfect tool for writing instruction.

More importantly writing requires agency. When you design webpages you will learn more in interest driven production based spaces. New teaching kits will focus on getting students engaged in building a better world.

Meanwhile learners will be making as the read, write, and participate online. The templates found in other editors are great. I try them often. What Thimble brings is the ability to develop your own learning pathways. You begin by making. Your design comes first and you learn HTML, CSS, and Javascript to bring it to life.

That is Thimble. Mentor powered, Interest driven. Production based. Mozilla Learning Networks has a goal for universal Web literacy and hopes to get there through connected learning. You can not separate these values from the tool.

Community Based Curated Curriculum

Thimble stands on its own as a great tool, but it is empowered by a community of contributors. Together we have the simple goal of changing the world.

Thimble comes pre-loaded with curriculum, teaching kits, and learning activities.

As a community, and under the leadership of Chad Sansig, Web Literacy Curriculum Director, we are creating a a Back-To-School Teaching kit. To learn more join us for a Twitter chat on 9/23.

From Noob to Advocate

Thimble, and other products by Mozilla Learning Networks, help develop educators through leadership development and advocacy. Stories likeMarina’s are everywhere. My story really is not that different.

For many years I considered myself a tech enthusiast. I taught middle school and used the latest and greatest…but I never built the latest and greatest. Thimble changed that for me.

In late 2013 I knew nothing of CSS. While I had been involved with the Foundation on and off since 2011 it wasn’t until 201 that I took the deep dive with Thimble. Now I am building webpages for our school like ourdepartment home page, faculty directories, and biographies. Each of these projects began on Thimble and the code is there for anyone to use.

Now on to Javascript

More than my tech skills I have developed my leadership and advocacy skills towards an Open Web. I run a Mozilla Web Club. I helped to develop theWeb Literacy Map. Most importantly I contribute back to the Mozilla Learning Networks.

I teach through learning. Thats the synergy of leadership and advocacy.

Get Involved

Mozilla doesn’t build the Web. It is the Web. Anyone can help us remix the future. If you would like to learn more about joining educators who read, write, and participate for a better future take the pledge to teach the web, join us on Twitter using the hashtag #teachtheweb, or share your story onDiscourse.

This post originally appeared on jgregorymcverry.com.

As a community, and under the leadership of Chad Sansig, Web Literacy Curriculum Director, we are creating a a Back-To-School Teaching kit. To learn more join us for a Twitter chat on 9/23.

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